A vaginal hysterectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the uterus through the vaginal opening. It may be part of a cancer treatment plan for women who are diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer.
To perform the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the vagina near the cervix, enabling the surgeon to access the uterus. The surgeon detaches the uterus from blood vessels and connective tissue, in addition to the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the upper vagina. He or she then removes the uterus through the vagina. In many cases, the cervix is also removed during the surgery.
Patients who undergo a hysterectomy receive general anesthesia so that they sleep through the procedure. For patients who prefer to remain awake during the procedure, a spinal block, a type of regional anesthesia, may be an alternative to general anesthesia.
Our Gynecologic Oncology team performs vaginal hysterectomies laparoscopically or using robotic-assisted technology. For both procedures, a laparoscope, a thin and flexible tube containing a camera, is used to see the reproductive organs so the surgeon can remove the uterus. The laparoscope is inserted through small incisions made near the belly button. Slender surgical instruments are also inserted through the incisions to detach the uterus. The uterus is then removed through the vagina.
A vaginal hysterectomy may be recommended if a patient has the following:
- Uterine cancer (endometrial cancer)
- Cervical cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Uterine prolapse
- Cervical dysplasia
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Severe endometriosis
- Severe, long-term vaginal bleeding
- Uterine fibroids
- Uncontrolled bleeding during childbirth
It can take less time to recover from a vaginal hysterectomy (about three to four weeks) than an abdominal hysterectomy (approximately four to six weeks). Another benefit of having a hysterectomy performed vaginally is there is less visible scarring.
Following a hysterectomy, a woman will no longer have periods and cannot get pregnant.